DENVER — Chris Rusin was on the brink of a big inning and a quick hook when he loaded the bases in the sixth. He turned it around and put together the best outing of his short career.
It was the first complete game by a Rockies pitcher since Tyler Matzek blanked the Padres on Sept. 5, 2014. Rusin (4-5), who won for the first time since June 21 against Milwaukee, threw 106 pitches. He retired the final 10 batters and struck out Justin Upton and Jedd Gyorko to end it.
"I knew I had good location and I was able to hit my spots," Rusin said. "I just used that to my advantage and tried to do that the entire game."
The left-hander walked one and also singled and scored in the eighth inning.
He gave Colorado's battered bullpen a day off and provided a highlight to a disappointing season for the Rockies. Colorado had lost 21 of 29 games since the All-Star break to sink into last place in the NL West.
It was the 12th complete-game shutout at Coors Field.
"You don't get to see that very often, a complete-game shutout, and he was in a position to do that," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "In the eighth inning he looked like he was strong. Bottom line was he was throwing the ball well so we were going to give him a shot to put that thing down."
San Diego starter Ian Kennedy (7-11) was nearly as effective as Rusin before faltering in the seventh. He retired the first 11 batters before Gonzalez hit a 1-0 fastball over the center-field wall in the bottom of the fourth to give Colorado a 1-0 lead. It was Gonzalez's 27th of the season and 23rd since June 1.
"He tried to paint on the outside corner," Gonzalez said. "It was a good pitch, but at the same time it was a good pitch for me to hit."
The Padres thought they tied it in the top of the sixth. Rusin retired the first two batters and then allowed two singles and a four-pitch walk. He went to the windup on his first pitch to Gyorko with the bases loaded when second base umpire Lance Barrett called a balk, allowing the runners to advance a base.
"They didn't know I was in the windup," Rusin said. "He said I was in the stretch, I couldn't do that, and I said, 'No, I was in the windup.' They were a little confused about that but got together."
The umpires had a conference near third base and reversed the call, bringing out manager Pat Murphy. After arguing his case he was ejected by third base umpire Dan Iassogna.
"Our argument was he already called the balk," Murphy said. "It is a deception to the hitter to not know because it looks exactly the same in the setup. The hitter doesn't know if he's in the stretch or the full. So if he's not going to declare our hitter is at a disadvantage."
Rusin then got Gyorko to ground out to end the inning with Colorado still leading 1-0. San Diego didn't get another baserunner.
"It (the balk call) fired me up just a little bit for the last out of that inning," Rusin said. "After that I was really locked in."
The Rockies blew it open in the seventh after first baseman Derek Norris dropped Nolan Arenado's bases-empty popup with two outs. Ben Paulsen doubled to left, DJ LeMahieu was intentionally walked and Michael McKenry hit a bases-clearing double to right-center to make it 4-0.
"Today we lost, but I gave our team a chance," Kennedy said. "Just frustrated I couldn't pick up Derek Norris in the seventh."
Padres: INF Yonder Alonso was not in the starting lineup but Murphy said he was fine after taking a helmet off the head in the dugout Saturday night. Upton, who was upset after getting tagged in a rundown in the eighth inning, slammed his batting helmet to the floor and it bounced up and hit Alonso in the head. Alonso was checked by Rockies doctors and found to have no concussion symptoms.
Rockies: RHP Chad Bettis is expected to make another rehab start after throwing 3 1-3 scoreless innings at Double-A New Britain on Saturday. Bettis has been on the disabled list since mid-July with right elbow inflammation.
Padres: RHP Colin Rea (1-0, 5.40) opens a three-game series against Atlanta on Monday. San Diego is in the midst of playing 12 of 15 games at home.
Rockies: RHP David Hale (3-4, 5.69) is expected to be activated to open a three-game series against Washington on Tuesday. Hale has been on the 15-day DL with a groin strain since July 10.